Hawaii Vacation Day 6 – The Road to Hana in Reverse

Saturday 11/17

As I mentioned yesterday, Steve loves the lava tubes. There is a big old, pay-to-get-in lava tube in the Hana area that we were thinking about hitting before starting out on the road Saturday morning. Unfortunately, it didn’t open until 10 am and we were out and about by 9 am. Instead, we headed over to the Wai-‘anapanapa State Park which was really worth the visit. There are some cool freshwater pools that you can hike to, complete with a legend of a crazy ancient Hawaiian king who killed his princess there after she ran away from his cruelty.

There’s also a great black sand beach, an old cemetery, and a cool sea arch. We were a little rushed because we wanted to get on the road, but it was a neat place to stop.


Our plan had been to drive from Hana around the south side of the island and head up to the Haleakala area from that direction. “The book” advised that the road was much better than it used to be and its former reputation was no longer warranted. However, “the book” was published in 2005 and an earthquake in 2006 had caused a landslide to close the highway going south. We discovered this when I asked about the road at the gas station in Hana, and it was confirmed by the signs and pictures at the national park we stopped at a little further along the road.

The landslide is still there and the road is closed indefinitely at this point. I almost wonder if political reasons are keeping the road blocked. . . i.e. the people of Hana didn’t like that the road was becoming so passable anyway.

But I digress. Since we could no longer follow through on our plan to drive all the way around the island, we would have to head back the way we came. We decided to continue south where there are some great waterfalls until we could go no further, then turn around and head back, stopping at the lava tubes on our return.

One of the nicer waterfalls to the south of Hana is Wailua Falls. It is gorgeous. There is a short hike to the right of the waterfall that will take you closer to the falls, and you can even clamor down to the swimming pool beneath, as we saw a local family do while we were there. Fortunately, due to our plan of staying overnight in Hana and not trying to get this far in one day, we got to these falls early and they were fairly deserted. When we passed by later in the day, they were terribly crowded and there was nowhere to park.


The other awesome falls on this section of road is an unnamed waterfall at Hahalawe Stream that you need to hike down to a bit. Really not far, but you have to climb down from the side of the road, maybe a 3-minute walk. At the bottom, though, is a beautiful section of waterfall that not many people have discovered because you can’t see it from the highway and, apparently, they aren’t being guided by “the book”. It is a perfect paradise down there. You can barely see the cars going by overhead, the waterfall is perfect, and there are big boulders to sit on and enjoy the scenery. Highly recommended.



Finally, we reached Oheo Gulch (aka the Seven Sacred Pools). Yes, more waterfalls. But this is a whole series of waterfalls, each with a swimming pool (more than 7, by the way), flowing into each other all the way down to the sea. Better yet, it is part of the Haleakala National Park. A “day pass” is actually good for 3 days and we were heading up to Haleakala Crater the next day, so paying here would mean we didn’t have to pay up there, as long as we kept the receipt. It was lovely there. It was already starting to get a little crowded when we were there at 11:30; I can’t even imagine it later in the day.




Oh so conveniently, the road was blocked just AFTER Oheo Gulch, so this was the end of the road for us. We headed back towards Hana as a steady stream of cars headed toward Oheo Gulch.

After a quick lunch in Hana, we drove up to the aforementioned lava tube. This was definitely worth the stop, especially if you like caves and/or geology (I’m looking at you, Mom and Dad). The Ka’eleku Lava Tube seems to be both a way to support the landowner and a labor of love. There is signage all along the tube explaining the lava flow and geologic forces at work in the formations. While a bit bummed that we couldn’t see the south side of the island, I’m really glad we were able to spend time at this lava tube.

One weird thing, though. Apparently, this lava tube was the nuclear fallout shelter for the greater Hana area back in the 1950s-60s. Just past the section of the tube that had this signage, there was a gaping whole in the ceiling of the tube, with a massive growth of flora. Now, I’m sure things grow quickly in Maui, but from the amount of growth, I’m not sure if that hole is recent enough to have been post-fallout shelter. I meant to ask the owner about it, but I forgot. Oh well.

This next picture is of Steve right below the gaping maw.


And this one is at the entrance to the tube.


Finally, we were headed away from Hana in earnest, but not before we stopped to get a picture of Steve, “King of the Road to Hana”, with the road winding away behind him.


That night, we stayed at the Kula Lodge, just down the road from Crater Highway. We had an early morning planned at the Crater and wanted to avoid a long drive to get there. Steve and I agreed that it just wasn’t worth it to us to get up for the sunrise, but we had to be there early for our horseback ride!

I really liked the Kula Lodge. The room was very nice and the restaurant was excellent. It was a little pricey (both the room and the restaurant), but it was worth it to be that close to the crater. And, indeed, our meal at the Kula Lodge was still cheaper than it would have been the night before at the Hotel Hana Maui! And it was SO GOOD.